Tokyo- Day 3

It’s just after 6am here. I just woke up and am groggily getting started here.

In a move that will probably surprise many of you, we didn’t actually go to the TGS yesterday (Saturday). Since the hall was open to the public that day, Capcom and other contacts we had stressed it would be pointless and frustrating for us as way too many people are let in and you can barely move, let alone conduct business. Since we saw the entire show floor on Friday and have set up several business meetings outside the show for early this week, we decided Saturday would be a good shopping day instead.

Heading to the subway again, (check this map out for an idea of the insane subway system here… compare it to Toronto’s subway map) Erik decided to take me from Ikebukuro, where our hotel is, to Nakano area – promising me I’d be impressed with the nerdy selection there.

But first we needed to have some genuine Japanese sushi for brunch. At a medium-sized place just down the road we ate an amazing array of delicious fresh sushi like I’ve never had before. The plates came by on a little boatline/conveyor belt for you to pick and choose what you wanted. I’ve had sushi like this before in North America, but the plates are priced by type of fish and it gets expensive quite quickly (anywhere from $3.00 to $6.00 per plate of 2-3 pieces of sushi). At this place the portions were big, the variety was awesome and the price was fantastic (every plate was $1.38 each).

Happy sushi eaters ready to tackle the day.

Then, on to Nakano.

The Sun Mall. Narrow lanes of people traffic.

Heading through the Sun Mall, we entered a building called the Broadway. The only way I can currently think to describe it properly would be a 4 storey nerd mall/flea market on steroids. This isn’t like Animate, that 8 storey mainstream anime place I described in my earlier posts, this is an off-the-beaten path nerd-mecha where collectors go for obscure stuff or amazing deals. Um, wow.

Suffice to say that if you asked me to grab you any anime/manga stuff, I probably bought it yesterday. Many of the stores had ‘no photo’ policies in place, but here’s a very narrow idea of what I’m talking about:

Nakano Broadway. Um, yeah.

Dozens and dozens of shops selling new and used pop culture stuff – videos, soundtracks, models, figurines, costumes, movie posters, comics, art books, cards, movie memorabilia, cels and model sheet packs, vintage clothing… every twist and turn through the narrow halls of it uncovered some bizarre little spot with things I’d never seen usually being sold at a discount.

The undisputed master of this mall is a chain of stores called Mandarake. Mandarake has at least 8 stores within Broadway, each catering to a different aspect (manga, models/toys, video, etc.) both new and used. Import art books and things I’ve seen sell in North America for $70+ were selling routinely for $20 or less.

My biggest limitation wasn’t finding things, it was whether or not I’d be able to carry it back to our hotel, let alone pack it all into my luggage. I made the mistake of geeking out hard at the first book store we hit and buying enough to fill my backpack to the brim. Then I had to haul that heavy load, and several shopping bags more, around for the remainder of the day. Erik laughed at me for a while until he too had loaded himself up within the first few stores and we both trudged around like pack horses, coming around each corner and swearing as we saw another cool thing and had to decide how we could fit/carry it.

Military enthusiast shop.

Cosplay shop.

Since it was a Saturday, Broadway was busy. I was surprised at the cross section of people. I know I’ve read about how manga/anime is enjoyed by every age and generation in Japan, but it was amazing seeing that first hand. What would normally in North America be a maze of geeks bustling around was instead a broad spectrum – old ladies, people with kids and strollers, teenagers, adults.

By the end of the first floor I was hauling what I thought was a crazy amount of stuff. By the time we finished several hours later, my fingers were aching from the weight of new shopping bags I’d consolidated together. Erik seemed thoroughly amused by my amazement.

It’s hard to see in this shot, but my backpack is horribly heavy
and the shopping bags are pulling my arms out of their sockets.

Limping back to the subway, we brought our haul back to the hotel room, rested for a bit and then went out to a couple more mainstream bookstores down the road to fill in any gaps in manga sets we’d bought. We were both giddy when we discovered the latest Udon Street Fighter trade paperback prominently displayed at one store:

Erik like a proud parent showing off his kid. The Japanese reprint of our comics also for sale,
with a recommendation from the staff attached below it.

Again I was struck at the broadbase appeal of comics culture here. Many of the mainstream stores had all age groups browsing their comics even late at night.

The english makes sense, but it’s worded in an awesome way.

Having fully engaged our geek senses for one day, we decided to make an encore appearance at the same sushi place again, filling up on amazing food for cheap before resting at the hotel and crashing out.

PS: Scroll to the top of this post to check out the new LJ icon I made from an amazing t-shirt we saw at Nakano. Dude, chicken staring at fried eggs!

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